Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Rhythm Gets His Groove Back

Andre Williams, aka Mr. Rhythm, whose talkin’ R&B dance-dittys, Bacon Fat, Greasy Chicken, Pass the Biscuits Please, Ribs n' Tips, and the immortal Jail Bait hit the charts during the mid-late 1950s but whose career later hit the skids, followed by a descent into an alcohol and drugs-fueled skid-row life, has got his mojo workin’ once again with his first literary effort.

Sweets and Other Stories is a fictional narrative that takes readers on a wild, edgy ride from Chicago to Houston, New Orleans, and New York City, as a teenage girl finds herself in a family way, without, alas, a family. Forced to fend for herself, she is taken under the wing of a local pimp who entices her into prostitution.

The narrative that follows is a free-for-all through the shadow world of pimps and their women, corrupt funeral directors, gangs and drug running, with sidebar anecdotes that are guaranteed to appall, alarm and astonish. Extreme entries remain unedited, and none of Williams' raw-drawl storytelling style has been tampered with in this unusual and startling fiction debut. The text ends with lyrics to songs that Williams, now 73, has recently composed.

“When I first peered into this book and saw the words ‘Sweets got in the cab and asked the driver to take her to a good fortune teller,’ I was mesmerized, drawn in by what I knew to be a rare new voice in American fiction...The stories he has written deserve to survive as well. They most certainly deserve to be read, as the rewards they offer are many and fine.” - Nick Tosches, from his Foreword.

Can you deal with Sweets and Other Stories by Andre Williams?

After his R&B salutes to cholesterol, down home cookin', and the young and illegal, Andre Williams went on to co-write Stevie Wonder’s first song, Thank You For Loving Me; wrote Shake a Tail Feather for The Five Du-Tones (later recorded by Ike and Tina Turner); supervised two albums by The Contours; and managed Edwin Starr.

Sweets and Other Stories, written by Williams as an exercise in rehab, is released by Kicks Books, a division of Kicks Magazine, both ventures part of Miriam Linna and Billy Miller’s Brooklyn-based vintage as vantage-point, fringe-to-front-and-center pop-culture empire that exploded on the scene in the mid-1980s with Norton Records, their label (named in honor of Brooklyn’s favorite son and Ralph Kramden’s best friend) devoted to promoting primitive, retro rock'n'roll; rockabilly; garage punk; garage rock; lounge music; and early R&B. Linna, former drummer for The Cramps, one of the seminal groups to emerge in NYC’s punk scene of the ‘Seventies, is also, as if she doesn’t have enough to do to keep herself off the streets and out of trouble, one of the nation’s most respected dealers of vintage paperbacks.

You don’t have to be on Route 66 to get your kicks. Kicks Books’ Sweets and Other Stories by Andre Williams can be ordered directly from the publisher.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email